December of 1883, Mary Eliza, the wife of George T. Brown, a respected
farmer in Exeter, died of consumption. Seven months later, his
daughter, Mary Olive, succumbed to the same disease at the age
of twenty. Within a few years, his only son, Edwin, began to show
the signs of consumption, gradually losing his strength, color
and appetite. Alarmed, Mr. Brown took Edwin to the doctor, knowing
too well from previous experience that a diagnosis of consumption
was the equivalent of a death sentence. By this time his daughter,
nineteen year-old Mercy Lena, had contracted the disease, too.
Her consumption was of the "galloping" variety, for she quickly
passed away in January of 1892. Her unembalmed corpse was either
buried in the family plot at Chestnut Hill cemetery or, more likely,
stored in the stone crypt awaiting burial after the spring thaw.
Text © Dr. Michael Bell